Beeskraal is a South African Rock Music Group, and were the first South African Group to perform at the Ukkasie festival in London. Beeskraal also played at Aardvark in London during the 2007 Rugby World Cup.
A lot has changed musically since the Beeskraal album “Plaasdorp”, and the band has entered a broader market. Charlie mentioned that they did not dramatically change anything, but instead moved towards a more Southern Rock Style, rather than their usual Afrikaans Boerepunk roots; ”We love Cajun and Zydico music from the Southern Biblebelt of Southern States of America. Those are our influences.”
Beeskraal’s approach to the country genre stands out from the rest and has a very distinctive sound. Charlie mentioned that they all grew up with Country music especially the Outlaw guys like Johnny Cash, Kris
Kristofferson , Willie Nelson and Wyalon Jennings and we love Appalachian Mountain and Bluegrass Moonshine music as well. ”In 2014 we made an acoustic Country album and we called it “Magaliesberg”, music referring to the Appalachian Mountains. But our country wasn’t open for that. A bit to unfamiliar.
The band has been nominated for countless awards over the years and Charlie said that all of the nominations and awards were special to them, but the one that stood out the most was the bands first KANNA award at the KKNK in 2001. That is, according to Charlie, when the band realized that the public is open to their mix of Boeremusiek with serious punk and Rock ‘n Roll; ”Awards don’t always portray the true talent and value of an artist especially in South Africa, although it is nice to be recognized. And it doesn’t put food on the table.”
It is not everyday that a bands music gets used by a psychologist to rehabilitate trauma patients, Rock Tot wondered if Beeskraal ever expected that their music would be used by medical personal.
“That was one of the highlights of our career and we couldn’t imagine anything like that in ages, African doctors using our music to rehabilitate trauma victims from the 911 attacks on America. It was an honor. Because we also have slight African Kwaito influence as well the doctors told they gave the people jembes to play along with our music. Although they didn’t understand the language the rhythm and melodies were very comforting for them.”
Beeskraal being legends in Afrikaans music themselves, we asked Charlie how it felt to work alongside other Afrikaans music legends such as Dozi, Anton Goosen and Piet Botha on their 10 year album. Charlie explained that it was such an honor working with those artist, ”especially Anton Goosen whom is our Godfather. We still tour and play together. We must admit not all bands can say they have these guys featuring on their albums.”
With the 20 year album a lot of the songs were re-recorded with a modernized sound, we asked Charlie if they recorded it with the original musicians or if they had all new musicians. He explained that the songs were sent all over the world to all the guys who were part of any recording throughout the years from Ireland to Germany. “Each brought their own unique sound to table again. We all have grown tremendously as musicians and you’ll hear the tracks are a bit more grungy Soundgarden, Collective Soul vibe but still Afrikana punk.”
With the music video of “Duisend Ure”, it was shot in an old age home, the band is involved in a lot of charity work, we asked Charlie what made them decide to film the music video in an old age home. “We’ve been involved in a couple of community projects and charities over the years doing our social responsibility which I think every artist must do. We got the idea of the old age home music video from a video the Foo Fighters did in an old age home too. They enjoyed it so much. We would love to to it again.”
Afrikaans as a medium in music has seen its challenges throughout the years, what is the “Beeskraal” secret to remaining relevant in the music scene and making use of Afrikaans for over 20 years? ”I think we have a niche market and a very unique sound . We don’t sound like anybody else except for a lot of other people copying us which we respect. We don’t follow trends at all to sell ourselves or records. Stick to our roots and our guns like AC/DC. We are also proper music graduates and true artists. We don’t chase money or fame. Music and originality first. We would rather be respected by a small crowd of musicians than chase commercial public fame. We’re a well oiled machine. Each guy in the band is on top of their game and engineers on their instruments and together we build bridges like that for the generations to follow.”
What have you learned from the USA country scene during the filming of “Country Hart met Juanita du Plesis” in 2013? ”South Africa has a lot to learn about the music industry, true artistry, musicianship and songwriting. Here, especially in South Africa we create “take away” music in a overcrowded market full of cheap tricks to sell records. People also seem to follow trends more in South Africa rather than true talent. If the media is biased towards someone due to ties connected with monopoly record companies…if they say this guy or that guy is good everybody follows doesn’t matter if the guy hasn’t got an inch of talent in him. The South African market are spoon-fed with garbage without any knowledge of the bad quality they are exposed to. South Africans don’t appreciate proper good music. Because you are famous doesn’t make your music good or makes you a good musician. Proper talented musicians usually takes the back seat in our industry. In America people support each other through writing circles and other sessions as well. They respect one anothers talents. Here nobody wants to see the sun shine on another.”
The last question that we asked Charlie, was a question that we like to ask every artists that we interview; If you could change anything about the South African Music Industry, what would it be?
”Be original, learn to play your instrument well and respect the song. It’s not about you it’s about the song. You must decide do you want to be a “singer -entertainer” or a real artist and musician because there is a huge difference. One thing we’ve realized is that a big audience and big stage doesn’t necessarily make you a better musician than the guy playing a little theater or bistro. Don’t forget where you come from. We’ve known musicians that actually begged us to open for us years back know that they have their fifteen minutes of fame they don’t even greet you anymore. Fame without talent is a very dangerous thing. Shame on them!”.
We would like to thank Charlie and the Beeskraal team for taking the time to chat with us and answer our burning questions!